If anybody in sports ever earned the right to kick back and retire at age 62, it’s Jim Baron, who stepped away from the Canisius basketball program Friday. The guy is a quintessential grinder.
I watched a practice in admiration a couple of years ago as, bad hip and all, Baron was going to the hardwood teaching players how to properly take charges. You could see the pain on his face this year as his defensively challenged team struggled to bring intensity. Baron brought it every day. He never had an easy job in his four stops – St. Francis (Pa.), St. Bona, Rhode Island, Canisius.
He took St. Francis to the NCAAs. In 24 years since he left, it has had two winning seasons. He rescued Bona after the disastrous Ron DeCarli/Tom Chapman era. Rhode Island is a pretty good job, but Danny Hurley (who I love) hasn’t yet surpassed Baron there. Baron revived the downtrodden Griffs.
His 26-year record (not counting three first seasons) was 437-373 (.539). Baron walks away knowing he left every ounce he had on the floor.